ILLINOIS PASSES NEW LEGISLATION ABOUT INSURANCE DEATH BENEFITS

Cemetery

If you have ever served as an executor of an estate, you know how hard it is to find and distribute all the assets. If the deceased was advanced in years, things can be increasingly difficult. Investments made forty years ago may be hard to track down. It may be difficult to find the original life insurance policies. Even if the individual had a will, there are challenges.

Since 2011, the Illinois State Treasurer has identified more than $550 million in unclaimed life insurance proceeds that should have been paid to beneficiaries in Illinois. Since no claims were made, the life insurance companies kept the money.

On August 26, 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 4633 into law. The legislation created the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act. It requires insurers to run an initial, and then semi-annual check against the Death Master File (DMF) to determine if a policy holder has died and the death benefits have not been paid. The Social Security Administration maintains this list to be sure recipients are alive and to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in Social Security programs.

In addition, the Illinois Department of Insurance has launched a new program, the Life Policy Locator Service, to help executors, legal representatives, and family members find a life insurance policy or annuity contract left by a deceased individual. After necessary information is submitted, the Illinois Department of Insurance will contact all state-licensed life insurance companies asking them to search their records for any life insurance policies or annuity contracts insuring the decedent. If a policy is found, that insurance company will contact the beneficiary to complete the claim.

To find out more about the free Life Policy Locator Service, go to the Illinois Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.illinois.gov.

HB 4633 will be effective January 1, 2017.

— by Karen Centowski

DISCOVER WHAT’S YOURS

Illinois Cash
Illinois Cash

On August 18, 2016 Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced that a record setting $155 million in unclaimed property had been returned to rightful owners during this past year, July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. This amount is the highest in the history of the I CASH program.

More than 53,000 claims were fulfilled during this time. The average amount returned was $2,900. Most of this money is returned to individuals, but sometimes a not-for-profit or other entity is the recipient. For example, legendary comic Richard Pryor had donated $100,000 to the George Washington Carver Community Center in Peoria where Pryor made his first performance as a child. A leftover amount of $19,000 somehow remained in a bank account and was turned over to the Illinois State Treasurer’s office. The Illinois State Treasurer was able to complete the transfer of the money. Pryor had died in 2005.

In another case, an individual bequeathed $1.5 million in his will to six non-profits. The individual’s will was not immediately executed, and the amounts were surrendered to the state treasurer’s office. Again, the Illinois State Treasurer’s office was able to distribute the money as the individual had intended.

The Illinois State Treasurer is responsible for safeguarding unclaimed property such as items left in safe deposit boxes, forgotten bank accounts, unused rebate cards, and life insurance policies. The Illinois State Treasurer currently holds more than $2 billion in unclaimed property.

Have you searched the I CASH data base for your name or the name of your relative? Go to www.illinoistreasurer.gov/ICASH. The Illinois State Treasurer never charges money to search the database or return unclaimed property.

WHAT’S THE WORST ROADS?

Road

What’s the worst roads? If you ask anyone who lives in Chicago, they will tell you Chicago streets are the worst because of the huge potholes that develop each Winter. The Chicago Department of Transportation patches potholes on 3,800 miles of city streets with December through April being the peak period. In 2016 the American Automobile Association reported that pothole damage cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion each year.

If you get away from the city, you will soon come upon unpaved country roads. In fact, in 2008 the U.S. had 1.3 million miles of unpaved roads. Some of these are dirt roads which wind up and down hills and around bends in the road. Others are gravel roads made from small stones or rocks from the local gravel pit. The dirt roads become mud with the Spring rains and are near impassable. The gravel roads send up clouds of dust when vehicles use them. So, what’s worst?

Maybe even a paved highway can be less than ideal. For a commuter, the traffic on the highways can make the trip a hell on earth. For a trucker, an icy freeway can cause his rig to jackknife. For the traveler in Illinois, the monotony of mile after mile of fields of corn or beans or wheat makes him wish for the good ole days of two lane roads with small towns every six or seven miles. Ask anyone who has driven across the deserts of the American Southwest to describe that experience to you.

Oh, you think that’s not so bad. How about driving on a snow or an ice road to the Northern oilfields and diamond mines in Canada and Alaska? The ice road truckers drive on frozen lakes and rivers to take supplies to these remote operations. The season is short, and conditions are harsh.

If you like to be alone, here is a road is for you. Once called the North Slope Haul Road, the Dalton Highway in Alaska is a 414 mile road which starts just north of Fairbanks and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. It was built in 1974 as a supply road to support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. There are only three towns along the 414 mile stretch. Coldfoot has a population of ten. Wiseman has a population of twenty-two. Deadhorse has twenty-five permanent residents. However, Deadhorse has 3,500 to 5,000 seasonal residents, depending on oil production.

To see a video about the ten most dangerous roads in the world, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdoAFK3FD1Y.

—By Karen Centowski

UPDATE ON ILLINOIS PLATE RENEWAL REMINDERS

License Plate
License Plate

On August 1, 2016 Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that the Secretary of State’s office would resume mailing out reminders to those drivers whose license plate registration stickers are about to expire. The Secretary of State’s office had stopped sending out reminder notices in October of 2015 as a cost cutting measure during the budget stand-off between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

The move to stop sending out reminder notices proved to be very unpopular with Illinois motorists. Many had to pay late fees and fines. CapitolFax.com reported that over 247,000 motorists in Illinois received fines for late vehicle registration renewal in the first three months of 2016, compared with 111,000 motorists in January, February, and March of 2015. Illinois motorists paid $6.5 million in late vehicle registration fines during the first three months of 2016 compared to $2.2 million in late vehicle registration fines in January, February, and March of 2015.

A short-term budget for the year that began July 1, 2016 was recently approved by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. This stopgap budget allowed the Secretary of State’s office to resume sending reminder notices beginning in August, 2016.

Secretary of State Jesse White issued the following prepared statement: “The notices are an essential tool for the public to be sure their vehicles are in good standing and avoid paying late fees and fines resulting from tickets issued by law enforcement. The driving public paid for the budget impasse and it proved to be an unfair burden.”

—By Karen Centowski

ORDINARY MEN DO EXTRAORDINARY THINGS

Team

So many times the news is filled with stories of murder, rape, theft, gang violence, and political corruption. It would be easy to think that all mankind is evil. Then a story appears that illustrates the inherent goodness of ordinary men who risk their lives to save others. Such a situation occurred on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 in Lexington County, South Carolina.

A young man was driving his red convertible on Interstate 20 when he was distracted by a library book blowing from the back seat into the front of the car. He lost control of the vehicle and drove off the road. The car flipped over onto its top. The driver, who was wearing a seat belt, remained upside down inside the overturned car.

Drivers who witnessed the crash and other passers-by pulled over to help. The car was leaking gas, and the rescuers could smell something burning. Time was of the essence. First, men tried pulling open the doors by hand. Then one man, using his truck and tow strap, tried pulling off the doors. The doors were stuck, and the strap kept breaking.

Finally, the group of at least fifteen men were able to lift the car onto its side and then push it back over. The driver did not suffer any serious injuries.

Bert Sorin, one of the rescuers, said, “It was awesome seeing everyone working together and saving this man before the EMT’s could even arrive. God and fine American citizens were looking out for this fella.”

The incident was reported on ABC News July 20, 2016. To see the video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLhm4sVwRLw.

—By Karen Centowski